WELLINGTON, Fla. - For 27 years, investigators thought Sheila Keen had something to do with the clown who drove up to a home in Wellington, Florida, with flowers, balloons and a gun, and killed 40-year-old Marlene Warren.
They believed Keen was having an affair with Michael Warren, Marlene’s widower. They subpoenaed her then-husband and mother-in-law. The balloons found at the scene were only sold at the Publix across from her home at the time.
On Tuesday, investigators arrested the now 54-year-old, who goes by the name Sheila Keen Warren, in Washington County, Virginia, with the help of local law enforcement officers.
The sheriff’s office reopened the case in 2014 and has since spoken again with witnesses and conducted additional DNA analysis. Investigators said they learned Sheila Keen Warren married Michael Warren, Marlene’s widower, in 2002 and the pair owned a restaurant together in Tennessee. Property records show she has owned a home in Abingdon, Virginia, near the Tennessee border, since 2002.
The sheriff’s office did not say if those facts or other new evidence led to a grand jury indictment on first-degree murder in August. The sheriff’s office did not mention if her husband, Marlene’s widower, will be charged.
On May 26, 1990, a person dressed in an orange wig and white face paint parked a white Chrysler convertible in Marlene Warren’s driveway at 14570 Takeoff Place in Wellington. She answered the door, walking past her 21-year-old son, Joseph Aherns, and his friends. The clown handed her red and white carnations and foil balloons.
“Oh, how pretty,” her son remembered her saying. Aherns spoke with The Palm Beach Post in 2000.
Without saying a word, the clown pulled out a gun and shot Marlene Warren in the face. Aherns, who was in cast at the time from a car crash, said he made his way to his mother and yelled at the clown, prompting the shooter to turn around. Aherns didn’t remember what he said, but he remembered the clown’s brown eyes. After calling 911, he got his keys, got into a car and tried to find the Chrysler convertible to no avail. His stepfather, Michael Warren, was on Interstate 95 heading to a casino in Miami.
Warren died two days later.
A white Chrysler convertible matching Aherns’s description of the car the clown used to drive away was found abandoned in Royal Palm Beach, according to reports at the time.
But no blood, fingerprints or a gun were ever recovered. Neither was the clown suit.
In the days following the shooting, neighbors tried to put together what happened. Local children were scared of clowns.
Before Marlene Warren was killed, she told family that she feared her husband, Michael, would kill her. She wanted to leave him, but their auto business and real estate properties, worth more than $1 million, were in her name.
Family members told The Post in 2000 that Marlene Warren told her mother, “If anything happens to me, Mike done it.”
“They were having problems,” Bill Twing, Marlene’s stepfather, told The Post in 2000. “If she would’ve left him, it would’ve cost him dearly.”
Marlene Warren also thought there was another woman.
Shelia Keen was 27 and worked for Michael Warren at his West Palm Beach used car lot. Investigators were told by several people that Shelia Keen and Michael Warren were having an affair, but they both denied it. The pair married in Las Vegas 12 years after the shooting.
In the days after the fatal shooting, sheriff’s investigators discovered many connections to Shelia Keen Warren:
The balloons at the scene were only sold at a Publix at Community and Military Trail near where she lived. The salesperson described the woman who bought the items as having long, brown hair, like she had. The balloons were bought less than an hour before the shooting.
At a nearby costume shop, salespeople there identified Sheila Keen specifically as the woman who bought a clown costume just days before the shooting.
Additionally, detectives connected the Chrysler convertible to Michael Warren’s car business through a stolen car report filed just a month before. Inside the car, they found orange fibers, possibly from the orange clown wig, and brown hair. DNA analysis in 1990 was very limited.
Until now, neither were ever arrested in the fatal shooting.
Michael Warren did serve several years in prison after he was convicted of grand theft, racketeering and odometer tampering, connected to the used car business.
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